During WW I and WW II, 20 million Victory Gardens were planted in backyards, parks and rooftops to help with food production. They grew 41 percent of the produce that was consumed in the nation. Fruits and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons.
Growing a victory garden was considered patriotic. But once the war was over, people thought backyard gardening was no longer necessary. Unfortunately, this is when large, mono-culture farms became the solution with increased use of herbicides and pesticides. The country now has the problem of chemicals in food and an international distribution chain. Trucking food takes fuel and ends up costing more (out of pocket and into air). Money is tight for many people and gardens could help financially. For example, if four tomato plants cost about $15, and the average yield for four plants is 60 pounds, then the cost would be about .25 per pound as opposed to at least $1.50 per pound at the grocery store.
Growing a garden is not the only way to offset the carbon footprint. Planting a tree is also hugely beneficial to air quality. A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 pounds per year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two people. If every American family planted just one tree, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be reduced by one billion pounds annually. Three hundred trees can counter balance the amount of air pollution one person produces in a lifetime. Consider planting a tree this Earth Day (April 22).
Growing something can be as time consuming as one wants it to be. Planting a tree, a windowsill herb garden and vegetables planted in pots or bags can all be pretty quick processes. Raised beds or tilled gardens take more time but that extra "room" can be very rewarding. There is already a community garden established behind Morgans Grove Market. Check the Facebook site "Sustainable Shepherdstown Organic Community Garden" for more information.
Farmer's market opens Sunday, April 7 at 9 a.m.. There's lots of inspiration to be found there. Information is at one's fingertips; there are books, magazines and computer blogs about anything gardening. Sustainable Shepherdstown is also partnering with ACFF to show a few inspirational films about growing things on Saturday, April 13 at the Opera House at 4 p.m.
Whether a chef inspired by homegrown vegetables, herbs and fruit, one who likes to build magical pea pod teepee gardens or sunflower patches with the little ones, one who smiles at a field of flowers or one who enjoys watching something grow and change through the seasons, there are countless inspirations out there.
This is a month for growing and nourishing. It is a challenge to provide the perfect blend of great soil, sunlight and water and still keep the bugs from eating the plants. But the challenge is worth it. Take care!